Great machine for entry and mid-level espresso fans. After a few years you may want to move up to a better machine.
Positive Product Points
-Easy to operate -Quick heating -Good support via the Starbucks 1-800 # -Solid/heavy build
Negative Product Points
-Soup like espresso after making shot -Returned one unit alreay (see below) -Pressurized portofilter
My good friend is a store manger at a Starbucks, so he purchased one for me using his employee discount on top of the sale price. I believe that I paid around $179 for the complete unit in the grey/silver paint finish.
I've gone through two of these machines. The first one after three years started making my circuit breaker trip evertime I made a shot. I called the 1-800 Starbucks line and after a long discussion and several phone calls and complaining to the help line, they finally agreed to refund my machine. Every time I explained the problem, it was like they did not believe me when I told them it was making my circuit breaker trip. I'm thinking that something might have been going bad with the pump and it was drawing extra current causing the breaker to trip. For some reason, Starbucks would not allow me to exchange it at their store for another one. I had to ship it back to their main office and wait for a refund check to be sent to me. After getting the refund check, I had my store manager friend purchase another one for me.
It is also apparent that the Starbucks help line tracks calls/requests/refunds by person/address. The issue above took several calls and each rep that I spoke to could pull up "notes" based on my previous phone calls. Because they gave me such a hard time getting a refund for the machine, I suspect that if I have to return the machine again for any other future problems, I may be out of luck and they may not accept it. Oh well... Rancilio Silvia here I come.
Anyways.... the second replacement machine has been fine for about the last 2 1/2 years.
Like many others, I purchased the non-pressurized portofilter about a year ago from Saeco direct and have been making shots that way. My biggest complaint is that the used espresso comes out like soup instead of an easy to clean out puck. To clean the portofilter out, I simply use a butter knife and scoop the grounds out while holding the basket under running water. It cleans out quickly and easily when using that technique.
The combination of my Starbucks Barista burr grinder and non-pressurized portofilter pulls great shots. I had my friend over who is a Starbucks store manager and he thinks the shots taste like an old Marzocco machine. Starbucks should just sell the non-pressuirzed portofilter as an optional accessory at the Starbucks store.
As I mentioned, my friend the Starbucks store manager hooked me up with his employee discount ON TOP of the sale price. For $179, how can I go wrong?